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Vicious campaign continues in Springfield against pro-family pastor Scott Lively and his Bible-centered coffee house

Attempts to generate hysteria over false "unregistered sex offender" arrest

POSTED: Jan. 24, 2011

NOTE: We are continuing to cover this story. A terrible injustice is being done to Scott Lively, a respected pro-family pastor, attorney, writer, and activist who gave up his law career to set up a Christian mission in the most horrible, drug-infested neighborhood of Springfield, Massachusetts. Scott Lively has broken no laws. On the contrary, he is trying to help by bringing down-and-out people to God. But the political and media establishment in that run-down city is so obsessively hostile to traditional values and morality that they are determined to humiliate him, marginalize him, and drive him out. Just as important, this is a prelude of will happen to the rest of us before too long.

Media erupts after police arrest "unregistered sex offender" in coffee house

Just days after the first salvo in the media against Scott Lively, Springfield Police burst into the coffee house and arrested a volunteer manager and coffee server,  charged him with being an unregistered sex offender (though he HAD in fact registered), and immediately threw him in jail.

The media was quickly notified, and another series of articles about the "controversial anti-gay pastor" were published.

Attempt to generate hysteria over inner-city Christian mission

The Springfield Police Department (which has a "gay and lesbian" employee group) had apparently been working overtime to investigate the coffee house, and they acted swiftly.

But it turns out that Michael Frediani, also known as Michael Free, actually had registered properly and legally. He had only committed a minor technicality which in no way deserved the aggressive police action and jail situation. The judge let him go almost immediately.

But there's a larger point here. The very reason that Scott Lively set up his Christian coffee house in that horrible neighborhood (instead of, say, in Wellesley) was to attract people like Michael Free, who might have criminal pasts or whatever, and bring them closer to God. And by doing that the entire neighborhood and city is improved. That's his mission. That part of town is certainly full of people like Michael Free. Scott Lively's coffee house is the last place the police should be "investigating." They should be praising him.

Scott Lively (left) with Pastor C. S. Cooley, a Board member of the coffee house, at an evening event in the coffee house last summer.
[MassResistance photo]

And interestingly, the coffee house does not attempt to attract kids (as the homosexual groups do). However, if a few do come in and play the guitar, etc. (as they said they do) since it's monitored by at least two adult staff members, it's clearly better than any other place in that area of town for kids to be.

Here is Scott Lively's statement on the Michael Frediani situation:

Michael is a genuine born-again Christian who is one of the most spiritual, Jesus-centered men I have ever met. I "hired" him to be our volunteer coffee house manager and he served in that role for about a month. He unfortunately did not disclose the specific nature of his past, though he said it was very rough and he had served time in prison. The newspaper made it seem as though he was in hiding or something, but he had been registered as a sex offender at his prior residence and had filled out the paperwork to transfer his case to Springfield (they moved just two weeks ago). When his lawyer produced that paperwork in court the judge released him on his own recognizance, though he was still technically in violation of the registration law because he did not make a personal appearance at the Springfield PD after he moved. He resigned the next day and we accepted it though the entire board stands behind his claim to be a changed man and we do not believe he is a threat to anyone.

It has been 15 years since his conviction and he is now married to a very supportive wife who is due to have their second baby in about five weeks.

His job with us was really not much different than a barista at Starbucks, except that he prayed with people. He had no contact with children, except for some high-school students who always came in packs and there is almost always a steady stream of patrons through our door, and other volunteer staff there as well. Our policy is to always have two people on staff when possible.

Singled out by authorities for harassment

The nearby high school has an enormous truancy rate -- over 25% by some estimates. On any given school day there are large numbers of kids all over the area, in stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and in the streets. But according to investigations by Lively and others in the neighborhood, Lively's coffee house is the ONLY business that's ever been descended upon by school officials and police in this manner to deal with truants. It's unquestionably because of his views on morality.

Absurd, slanted press coverage

Scott Lively is a man who has devoted his adult life to telling the truth and doing good works. But here's how the local newspaper, the left-wing Springfield Republican, covered it. They attempted to portray him in the worst possible light, filter his rebuttal through their own prism, and, of course, got the main facts wrong. (Notice there was no article about the false charges of being "unregistered".)

MassResistance report  of original Boston Globe and Springfield Republican articles.

Here are the Springfield Republican articles on the incident. Note the inflammatory headlines:

January 7: "Springfield officials worry Holy Grounds coffee shop run by anti-gay pastor Scott Lively attracts truants"
The original article, Jan. 7

January 10: "Controversial pastor Scott Lively says students no longer can visit Holy Grounds Coffee House in Springfield during school hours"
Pressure by city officials, Lively agreed to this. But it begs the question, in that neighborhood, where would they rather kids go?

January 13: "Police arrest manager of Holy Grounds Coffee House -- operated by anti-gay pastor Scott Lively -- as unregistered sex offender"
Presented in a pretty hysterical manner. They print cherry-picked quotes from a general interview with Frediani such as: "I talk to all the kids,"  "We have a place that is safe." "The presence of God is here right now."  "I invite God to touch them and he does."
You can bet that if it were a homosexual-oriented venue, the article would be entirely different - if it appeared at all.

January 13: "Pastor Scott Lively of Holy Grounds Coffee House says he did not know his manager is a convicted sex offender"
Followup later that day. More of the same.

January 13: "Interview: Controversial pastor Scott Lively responds to learning his Holy Grounds Coffee House employee was sex offender"
Additional followup Jan. 13. This absurd article includes "direct quotes in quote marks and some paraphrased quotes by Lively, who has generated controversy for his anti-gay statements." It's basically just rambling notes a reporter wrote down while talking to Lively, presented in a semi-comprehensible way.

Anyone who's been to Scott Lively's Holy Grounds coffee house (as we have) can attest that it is a truly Godly place. It is an oasis in a spiritual desert and dangerous neighborhood. Scott's coffee house is the only place there where anyone would want kids to hang out.

And of course, the homosexual newspaper Bay Windows had a front-page article on all this, which quoted Springfield City Councilor Timothy Rooke (see #3 below).